B is for Balancing

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This post is a part of the Pagan Blog Project. It is the first of two for the letter B. As you can see, I’m still catching up on the project because the second B post would have been due this Friday. I plan to publish mine later this weekend.

This is not a post about the kind of balance that is once achieved and then kept in perfect beauty. Instead, it’s a post about the kind of balance you might find in a seesaw: dynamic, ever-changing, and not necessarily entirely pleasant.

I used to wonder why I always had such difficulties replying to questions that asked about my “typical role in a group.” That’s because I don’t really have a typical role I assume in whatever kind of group I’m in. I don’t even have a typical role I assume in the same group over even a small period of time.

Instead I’ve found that I often assume any role that is currently lacking in the given group set-up at a particular time.

If everyone agrees all too readily with each other without even having had any kind of discussion/collective thought process, I am the one to bring about questioning and disorder. If everyone is fighting and setting up Us vs. Them dynamics, I am the one to build bridges, translate and find common ground. If everyone is holding back passively and indecisively, I am the one to take the lead, take on responsibility and make decisions. If everyone is blaming/scapegoating someone else, I am the one to defend that someone and try to make others see that person’s view. If everyone is being outwardly friendly to someone who has overstepped the boundaries, I am the one to bring the conflict out into the open. If everyone is calmly rational in a matter (also) that touches on other people’s emotions, I am the one to express these emotions (especially difficult ones like anger or hurt, but sometimes also joy and love). If everyone is being very emotional, I am the one to bring some rational analysis to the dynamic. If everyone is serious and perfectionist, I am the one who introduces play, laughter and the value of “good enough.” If everyone is glossing over imperfections and joking around, I am the one to call for order and earnestness. And so on.

In part that’s probably due to my nearly automatic habit to always assume a “different” position, often simply out of curiosity for what effect that will have. I like not doing what everyone else does. But then I never just start trouble for trouble’s sake, so I figured there must be some other reason why I keep shapeshifting my behavior and even my emotions according to the needs of the group I’m in. Eventually I began to regard this as a “spiritual” role I fulfill: adding what’s missing, providing a necessary counterpart, causing creative tension to achieve some greater good. In fact, I often do so at my own cost, because you don’t exactly win many friends by “always being so difficult, ” by “always making things complicated,” or by “never accepting anything without (initial) objection.”

Admittedly, this may be stretching the definition of “spiritual,” but I believe it is one of my “jobs” in this life to put this talent to the use of a greater good, often without even being conscious of it while it happens. I believe I’m serving the Universe by doing so, consciously or not, even if that doesn’t often result in peace and comfort or in having praise heaped on me in vast amounts. To me at least, that is spiritual – and it is another thought process in progress…

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4 responses »

  1. I really loved all your posts in this blog project! Looking forward to read the rest in due time:-D
    As for being the odd one out in any kind of group, that is important too! I find that I rarely ever feel comfortable with a person unless we had a falling out of some sort, like I need to see their shadow, or for them to see mine, before I really open up.

  2. You have just described how I approach one on one interactions and group dynamics as well… I never really looked at it this closely, but I’m glad you did… I’m the devils advocate, I’m the opposite of you… basically….. I’m my grand father he would point out an opposite point of view for pretty much everything anyone ever had to say to him or around him….

    Thank you

  3. Thank you for stopping by to comment!
    I’m not sure you’re the opposite of me, though, I’d rather say we sound a lot alike. I’m often perceived to play devil’s advocate myself because I bring up the perspective that’s been missing from the discussion so far. Sometimes I do that with a bit of a mischievous glint in my eye, but usually it serves the discussion/group well to at least consider that view before any conclusions are reached.

    Interestingly, just yesterday an older guy I know said he found it remarkable that I always seemed to have a different perspective to offer, which was really unusual for him (seems he grew up with “this is how things are, period”).

  4. I see what you mean about seeing someone’s shadow, and I think I sometimes experience the same. One of my closest friends is someone I initially had quite some trouble getting along with, especially while we worked together on a project. As a result, however, we now know and understand each other a lot better, which has led to a much deeper friendship than we used to have.

    I believe this may have to do with the fact that once a friendship is put to the test, you see how people react in a crisis, which for me is very important information about their character and trustworthiness. Do they drop you like a hot potato once the goings get tough? Are they prentending there is no conflict? Are they pushovers who will agree with anything (but resent it secretly) to keep up the harmony at any price? Do they fight it out with you until the problem has been solved? If so, are they fighting dirty and hitting below the belt, or can you trust them to remain fair even when tempers flare up? Are they mostly cooperative or do they just want to “win”? Are they able to admit their own mistakes and concede that you are right? If you admit you were wrong, do they accept that with a superior sneer or with a friendly smile? Are they able to give and accept an apology? Do they tell you the truth in a way you can hear, even if it hurts at first? Etc.

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